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Lauriece L. Zittel

Accurate gross motor assessment of preschool children with special needs is necessary for quality intervention. This paper will identify critical factors for the selection of a preschool gross motor assessment instrument. Nine commercially available tools that purport to measure gross motor skill are critiqued, in table form, according to identified criteria. The criteria include purpose of the assessment, technical adequacy of the tool, nondiscriminatory factors, administrative ease, instructional link, and ecological validity of the instrument. Key features within each of the criteria will be used to review and analyze each instrument. This review illustrates that assessment tools vary in their ability to meet the assessment needs of preschool children suspected of having motor delays, and such tools therefore must be carefully selected.

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Don W. Morgan

A growing body of literature has confirmed the health benefits of regular physical activity in school-aged youth. However, less systematic attention has been directed toward establishing activity profiles and evaluating the impact of community-based interventions designed to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior in preschool children. In this paper, current findings are reviewed to determine whether preschoolers are achieving sufficient levels of structured and unstructured physical activity and to identify potential correlates of activity and sedentary behavior in the young child. In addition, promotion of physical activity among preschool-aged children in selected community settings is discussed and future research initiatives are highlighted. Given current trends in the overweight and obesity status of children aged two to five years, efforts aimed at increasing physical activity levels and documenting gains in health-related fitness and movement skillfulness in this pediatric population should be accelerated.

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Fiona J. Connor-Kuntz and Gail M. Dummer

Children age 4 to 6 years from special education (n = 26), Head Start (n = 35), and typical preschool classes (n = 11) were assigned to a physical activity intervention or a language-enriched physical activity intervention. Language and motor skill performances were measured before, immediately following, and 3 months following the 24-session, 8-week intervention. Results illustrated that language instruction can be added to physical education lessons without requiring additional instructional time and, more importantly, without compromising improvement in motor skill performance. Further, preschool children exposed to language-enriched physical education improved their language skills regardless of whether their educational progress was characterized by a cognitive and/or language delay. Thus, physical activity appears to be an effective environment in which to enhance the cognitive development of preschool children of all abilities.

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Stewart G. Trost, Bronwyn Fees and David Dzewaltowski

Background:

This study evaluated the effect of a “move and learn” curriculum on physical activity (PA) in 3- to 5-year-olds attending a half-day preschool program.

Methods:

Classrooms were randomized to receive an 8-week move and learn program or complete their usual curriculum. In intervention classes, opportunities for PA were integrated into all aspects of the preschool curriculum, including math, science, language arts, and nutrition education. Changes in PA were measured objectively using accelerometry and direct observation.

Results:

At the completion of the 8-week intervention, children completing the move and learn curriculum exhibited significantly higher levels of classroom moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) than children completing their usual curriculum. Significant differences were also noted for classroom VPA over the final 2 weeks.

Conclusion:

The results suggest that integrating movement experiences into an existing early childhood curriculum is feasible and a potentially effective strategy for promoting PA in preschool children.

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Anders Raustorp, Peter Pagels, Cecilia Boldemann, Nilda Cosco, Margareta Söderström and Fredrika Mårtensson

Background:

It is important to understand the correlates of physical activity (PA) to influence policy and create environments that promote PA among preschool children. We compared preschoolers’ PA in Swedish and in US settings and objectively examined differences boys’ and girls’ indoor and outdoor PA regarding different intensity levels and sedentary behavior.

Methods:

Accelerometer determined PA in 50 children with mean age 52 months, (range 40–67) was recorded during preschool time for 5 consecutive weekdays at 4 sites. The children wore an Actigraph GTIM Monitor.

Results:

Raleigh preschool children, opposite to Malmö preschoolers spent significantly more time indoors than outdoors (P < .001). Significantly more moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) was observed outdoors (P < .001) in both settings. Malmö children accumulated significantly more counts/min indoors (P < .001). The percent of MVPA during outdoor time did not differ between children at Raleigh and Malmö.

Conclusion:

Physical activity counts/minutes was significantly higher outdoors vs. indoors in both Malmö and Raleigh. Malmö preschoolers spent 47% of attendance time outdoors compared with 18% for Raleigh preschoolers which could have influenced the difference in preschool activity between the 2 countries. Time spent in MVPA at preschool was very limited and predominantly adopted outdoors.

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Greet Cardon and Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij

In this study, daily step counts were recorded for 4 consecutive days in 129 four- and five-year-old children. To compare daily Yamax Digiwalker step counts with minutes of engagement in moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), concurrent accelerometer data were collected in a random subsample (n = 76). The average daily step count was 9,980 (± 2,605). Step counts and MVPA minutes were strongly correlated (r = .73, p < .001). The daily step count of 13,874, equating to 1-hr MVPA engagement, was reached by 8% of the children. Daily step counts in preschool children give valid information on physical activity levels—daily step counts in preschoolers are low.

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Shannon Titus Dieringer, David L. Porretta and Diane Sainato

The purpose of our study was to determine the effect of music (music with lyrics versus music with lyrics plus instruction) relative to on-task behaviors in preschool children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in a gross motor setting. Five preschool children (4 boys, 1 girl) diagnosed with ASD served as participants. A multiple baseline across participants in conjunction with an alternating-treatment design was used. For all participants, music with lyrics plus instruction increased on-task behaviors to a greater extent than did music with lyrics. The results of our study provide a better understanding of the role of music with regard to the behaviors of young children with ASD.

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Elizabeth E. Dawson-Hahn, Megan D. Fesinmeyer and Jason A. Mendoza

Background:

Physical activity is associated with long-term benefits for health and tracks from early childhood into later adolescence. Limited information exists about factors influencing physical activity among Latino preschoolers. We aimed to identify correlates of objectively measured light-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity as a proportion of wear time (% PA) in Latino 3–5 year olds.

Methods:

Latino preschoolers (n = 96) were recruited from Head Start centers in Houston, TX, USA, from 2009 to 2010. Sociodemographics, anthropometrics, acculturation, neighborhood disorder, and TV viewing were measured. Actigraph GT1M accelerometers measured physical activity. Block linear regression was used with % PA as the dependent variable.

Results:

Children achieved 285.7 ± 58.0 min/day of PA. In the final adjusted-model, child age, parental education and neighborhood disorder were positively associated with % PA (beta = 0.33, p = .002; beta = 0.25, p = .038; beta = 0.22, p = .039, respectively). TV viewing was inversely associated with % PA (beta=-0.23, p = .027).

Conclusion:

The majority of Latino preschoolers in our study exceeded US national and international guidelines of physical activity duration. Future interventions to sustain physical activity should focus on the influence of age, socioeconomic status, neighborhood disorder, and TV viewing on Latino preschoolers’ attainment of physical activity.

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Ellen De Decker, Kylie Hesketh, Marieke De Craemer, Trina Hinkley, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Jo Salmon and Greet Cardon

Background:

Television viewing is highly prevalent in preschoolers (3–5 years). Because of the adverse health outcomes related to this behavior, it is important to investigate associations and mediators of young children’s television viewing time. This study investigated whether parental rules regarding television viewing time and parental concerns about screen viewing activities mediated the association between parents’ and preschoolers’ television viewing time.

Methods:

Mediation analyses were performed with the product-of-coefficient test on data derived from the Australian HAPPY study (n = 947) and the Belgian sample of the ToyBox-study (n = 1527). Parents reported their own and their child’s television viewing time, their rules regarding television viewing and concerns about their child’s screen viewing activities.

Results:

Parents’ television viewing time was directly associated with preschoolers’ television viewing time and parental rule for television viewing time mediated this association in both samples (14.4% and 8.1% in the Australian and Belgian samples, respectively).

Conclusions:

This study is unique in examining the mediating pathway of parental television viewing and a rule limiting TV viewing time and whether this is consistent in different samples. Due to the consistent importance, both parents’ television viewing time and rules should be targeted in interventions to decrease preschoolers’ television viewing time.

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Katherine L. Downing, Trina Hinkley and Kylie D. Hesketh

Background:

There is little current understanding of the influences on sedentary behavior and screen time in preschool children. This study investigated socioeconomic position (SEP) and parental rules as potential correlates of preschool children’s sedentary behavior and screen time.

Methods:

Data from the Healthy Active Preschool Years (HAPPY) Study were used. Participating parents reported their child’s usual weekly screen time and their rules to regulate their child’s screen time. Children wore accelerometers for 8 days to objectively measure sedentary time.

Results:

Children whose parents limited television viewing spent significantly less time in that behavior and in total screen time; however, overall sedentary behavior was unaffected. An association between parents limiting computer/electronic game use and time spent on the computer was found for girls only. SEP was inversely associated with girls’, but not boys’, total screen time and television viewing.

Conclusions:

As parental rules were generally associated with lower levels of screen time, intervention strategies could potentially encourage parents to set limits on, and switch off, screen devices. Intervention strategies should target preschool children across all SEP areas, as there was no difference by SEP in overall sedentary behavior or screen time for boys.